(written from a Production point of view)
Violent emotions sweep the Enterprise when Ambassador Sarek comes aboard to finish a long diplomatic mission.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Log entries
- 3 Memorable quotes
- 4 Background information
- 5 Links and references
Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan is called aboard the USS Enterprise-D to fulfill his latest diplomatic duty, a treaty with a mysterious race known as the Legarans. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Commander William T. Riker are in dress uniforms and walking down a corridor on their way to meet the ambassador. Picard explains to Riker how as a lieutenant, he became tongue-tied the first time he met Sarek briefly at his son's wedding. Riker then asks Picard if the rumors that Sarek will be retiring after these negotiations are true, and the captain confirms that it's unofficial but true, and the successful negotiations with the Legarans will be considered a perfect way to end such an exemplary career. They enter the transporter room and Sarek's aides, Ki Mendrossen and Sakkath, are beamed aboard. Mendrossen advises that Sarek is not a young man anymore and though Sarek may wish to attend the events that the Enterprise has prepared for him, he says that it is ill-advised because Sarek will tire too easily. He must be ready to negotiate with the Legarans when the Enterprise arrives at Legara IV. Picard says that they have readied a Mozart concert for him. Sarek and his wife, Perrin, are then beamed on board the Enterprise by Chief O'Brien. He introduces his wife, who, like his first wife, is Human. Sarek tells Picard he wishes to visit the conference room intended for the Legarans, contrary to Mendrossen's wishes. Mendrossen interjects to say that he should rest, but Sarek is insistent on visiting the conference room, telling Picard they worry about his health too much.
Meanwhile, Ensign Wesley Crusher and Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge are preparing in the conference room. They are currently readying the slime pit that is the home environment for the Legarans. Wesley says that he wants to finish as quickly as possible as he has a date with Ensign Suzanne Dumont. La Forge jokes that Wes would be too chicken to have even asked her out, but congratulates him. Sarek enters, inspects the conference room and becomes uncharacteristically irritated that it is not properly prepared. After he has calmed down, he retires to his quarters, declining (through his aides) Picard's invitation to show him the ship. Before leaving, Sarek loudly announces that the walls are too bright, which causes Riker to look at Picard in concern.
On the bridge, Picard and Riker discuss how Sarek is not as frail as Mendrossen implied. Picard will not cancel the concert even if the Ambassador is unable to attend, but regrets that the guest of honor won't be there. Riker thinks that for all they know, the ambassador might enjoy an evening's entertainment. Counselor Troi suggests that Picard invite Perrin instead, understanding this could lead to Sarek attending. Picard agrees and heads straight down. Arriving at their guest quarters, Perrin says that Sarek is meditating and unable to greet Picard. Picard says he came to ask Perrin to the concert and to bring Sarek to the concert if he is willing to attend. After Picard leaves, Perrin consults with Sarek in the other room, and it turns out he cannot meditate and has not been able to for weeks. Sarek asks his wife to leave him, as he requires solitude.
Wesley and La Forge verify the temperature of the slime in the tank, which is 150° Celsius. Wes, unusually impatient, asks to leave for his date and La Forge remarks that nothing's going to happen anyway. The two quickly descend into a huge argument, as La Forge says that Wes is not going to get anywhere with Dumont and Wes retorts that at least he doesn't have to get his women on a holodeck. The two are about ready to come to blows when Riker walks in and breaks it up. Wes leaves, while La Forge insists that nothing is the matter.
Picard and Riker go to the recital, as they discuss Worf putting a previously exemplary officer, Ensign D'Amato, on report for insubordination and Riker brings up the earlier incident, telling Picard he actually thought Wesley and La Forge were going to hit each other. Before they can discuss further, Sarek and his group come in the recital room. He says it was at his wife's insistence and that it seemed the ideal diversion. Picard introduces Data who asks which performer's style they'd like to hear, as he is programmed with varieties for 300 violinists. Perrin asks Data to play in the style of Tataglia. While the concert is going on, Sarek actually cries at a moving moment in the performance. Picard notices this and, while retaining his composure, is astounded to see a Vulcan crying to music. Sarek and his group quickly leave, and as they do Troi also feels something unusual from them.
Dr. Crusher summons Wesley to her office in sickbay, and after picking a fight with him about not having attended the concert, she slaps him as hard as she can to make Wesley tell the truth. Later, she tells Counselor Troi, whom Wesley reported to, that she would never hit her son, especially as it was unprovoked. It was from a sudden burst of anger. Troi says that she has heard the same thing from 10 other people in the last two days.
Sakkath gets a tour of the bridge from Data and he asks if Picard is prepared to go through negotiations with the Legarans if the ambassador's diplomatic capabilities are compromised. Data notes to Sakkath that Picard has extensive diplomatic experience and infers that Sarek may not be able to conduct negotiations as originally thought, but Sakkath backtracks and says that he was merely interested in exploring different scenarios of the situation.
In Ten Forward, Chief O'Brien starts an argument with one of the other officers about the table they were going to sit at. La Forge sees this and calms them down and offers to buy everyone a drink. At that moment, Riker discusses Worf reporting Ensign D'Amato's recent behavior when they walk into Ten Forward and into a massive brawl. They both join the melee and try to restore order.
Picard, Riker, Counselor Troi, and Dr. Crusher are in Ten Forward discussing the fights that have been occurring at various locations aboard the Enterprise. Eventually, Crusher and Troi deduce that Sarek is suffering from Bendii Syndrome, a rare sickness that causes Vulcans over the age of 200 to lose their emotional control, and Sarek is unconsciously broadcasting his intense emotions to the humanoids around him. Crusher says that all the fights started almost to the moment when the Vulcan party beamed aboard. She says that they can test for Bendii Syndrome but the results of the test to confirm it will not be available for several days after the scheduled meeting with the Legarans.
Picard summons Mendrossen to his ready room and tries to reason with him that Sarek may have Bendii Syndrome, but Mendrossen refuses to listen. He summons Data and has him talk to Sakkath, who admits, after Data uses logic with him, that Sarek is not able to continue his diplomatic duties in his condition. It turns out that Sakkath has been using his own telepathic abilities to keep Sarek's emotions under control, but the strain of the mission has made it impossible to hold in Sarek's abilities.
Riker tells Picard that he needs to tell Sarek about his condition, but they end up quarrelling before Data calms them down before it gets more serious. With a heavy heart, Picard takes up the unpleasant task of confronting Sarek. He finds Perrin and tells her that Sarek may have Bendii Syndrome, but Perrin is in complete denial about Sarek's condition, saying it is more folklore than a real disease. She also points out that there has not been a case of it in Sarek's lifetime and that he does not have it. Picard insists, apologizing that he must barge in, but then, Sarek, Mendrossen, and Sakkath come from the other room.
When he finally gets to speak to Sarek, he also does not believe that he has the disease, but he will submit himself to take the test. Since the conference is in a few hours and the test results cannot be determined for at least several days, Picard asks that he postpone the conference with the Legarans. Picard reveals that Sakkath has been holding together Sarek's emotions and Sarek tells Sakkath that his assistance will no longer be required. He then asks everyone to leave while he speaks to Picard alone.
Sarek offers Picard the chance to present his arguments and he will listen and consider them logically. Picard explains the violent emotional outbreaks that have been occurring on the ship, and that he feels Sarek is responsible. Sarek counters that any number of unexplained phenomena could be the cause, and while Picard states that other possibilities are being researched, there is also the fact this began after Sarek came aboard and that it can't be a coincidence that his wife and staff have been isolating him. Sarek suggests that Picard is reacting to their emotional feelings concerning his age, but Picard reminds him that Sakkath doesn't feel emotions. Sarek argues that Sakkath is a child who presumed that he needed help… but Picard reminds him that he did need his help at the concert. The mention of the concert causes Sarek to hesitate, as Picard reminds him that he cried… he saw the tears. Sarek denies it, then corrects Picard that he recalls that there was only 'one tear'. Picard then comes back with his original question; "Is it logical for a Vulcan to cry?". Sarek, beginning to lose control as his anger is rising, reminds Picard that the Legarans will meet with him and only him – there are no other solutions. Picard reminds Sarek that he himself has said that there are always other solutions, and that a Vulcan should never be afraid to look at something he didn't want to see. Sarek angrily accuses Picard of trying to discredit him, but Picard stands firm with the statement that "a Vulcan never confused what he wanted with the truth." Sarek shouts in fury, refusing to be "spoken to in this manner." Picard tells him that he can hear the anger in his voice. Sarek rants that it is illogical for a Vulcan to become angry, and his hysterical reaction proves that everything that Picard has claimed is true.
Picard, upset at what he had to do even if it was the right thing, knows that Sarek is in no condition to do the negotiations and prepares to inform the Legarans personally. Perrin asks Picard privately in his ready room to let Sarek continue the negotiations, but Picard cannot do anything. She asks Picard to volunteer to allow Sarek to mind meld with him, so that Sarek would have Picard's emotional control. Sarek is reluctant, warning that this would cause Picard to be completely overwhelmed by extremely powerful Vulcan emotions, but he ultimately agrees.
After the meld is performed, Picard is indeed overcome, and in the presence of Beverly Crusher, pours out the contents of Sarek's secretly anguished soul, such as his regrets of never showing tenderness to Perrin, as well as to his late wife Amanda and their son, Spock. In the meantime, a restored and rational Sarek successfully completes his negotiations with the Legarans.
The link is dissolved, and with the negotiations over and Sarek under less pressure, Sakkath can again help him. The USS Merrimac will be transporting Sarek and his delegation back to Vulcan. Picard shakes Perrin's hand, and then tells her that Sarek loves her. She says that she knows. Picard bids farewell to Sarek in the transporter room. Their lives have been forever joined, and each will carry the better parts of the other with them. Picard feels he has the better part of the bargain. Picard displays the Vulcan salute and bids Sarek farewell. As the Vulcan party leaves, Sarek grabs his wife's hand.
"I met him once… Many years ago, very briefly at his son's wedding. I can tell you, was quite a moment for a young lieutenant. Standing in the presence of such history… I remember he spoke to me, and I just stood there grinning like an idiot."
"Indeed. How do you make small talk with someone who helped shape the Federation?"
- - Picard and Riker
"These walls are too bright!"
- - Sarek, on the Legaran's conference room on the Enterprise
"The way Mendrossen described him, I expected to see a frail old man."
"I hope I'm that frail when I'm 202 years old."
- - Riker and Picard, discussing Sarek
"I don't have to tell you that insubordination is a serious charge to be filed against any officer."
"I am aware of that commander, however Ensign D'Amato directly challenged my authority."
"Is it my imagination, or have tempers become somewhat frayed on board this ship lately?"
"I hadn't noticed" (pause) "I see what you mean."
- - Riker and Worf, upon entering a barroom brawl in Ten Forward
"That girl's way out of your league."
"At least I don't have to find my women on the holodeck!"
"WHAT DID YOU SAY!?"
- - Geordi La Forge and Wesley Crusher, having a heated – and uncharacteristic – verbal argument, brought on by Sarek's condition
"Didn't your mother teach you manners?"
- - Miles O'Brien, to a sciences division crewman who stole his table in Ten Forward
"The next thing I know, somebody's left hook is on its way to my chin.
- - Geordi La Forge to Beverly Crusher, after the Ten Forward brawl is over
"I have been accused of many things in my life, never an excess of emotion."
- - Sarek
"My husband has taken an interest in your career. He finds it to be… satisfactory."
"My word… high praise from a Vulcan."
- - Perrin and Picard
"I don't understand this. Everyone is protecting Sarek: his wife, Mendrossen, even you!"
"What would you have me do? March down there and destroy the man?!"
"The mission with the Legarans cannot be carried out with Sarek in this condition!"
"I know that!"
"THEN TELL HIM THAT THERE IS NO WAY!!"
"DON'T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!"
- - Riker and Picard, having been affected by Sarek's condition, and Data, snapping them out of it
"I saw you crying."
"I did not cry."
"I was there, I saw the tears."
"You exaggerate, captain. I recall only one tear."
"So you were emotionally affected by the music."
"That is not possible."
"You still haven't answered my question, Sarek. Is it logical for a Vulcan to cry?"
- - Picard and Sarek
"The Legarans trust only me. They will not meet with any other member of the Federation. I must be allowed to complete my mission! There are no other logical solutions!"
- - Sarek
"I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO IN THIS MANNER!!!"
"Do I hear anger in your voice?"
"It would be illogical for a Vulcan to show anger! It would be illogical! Illogical! Illogical! Illogical!"
- - Sarek and Picard
"A mind-meld can be a terrible intimacy, Captain."
- - Sarek to Picard
"My wife, you will leave me now. I require solitude."
- - Sarek, to Perrin
"NOOOOOOO!!!! It is… it is… wrong. IT IS WROOONG!!! A lifetime of discipline is washed away, and in its place… (laughs briefly then grunts) Bedlam. BEDLAAAAM!!! I am so old… there is nothing left but dry bones (sobs) dead friends. Oh, tired. Oh, so tired."
- - Sarek, in Picard's mind shortly after the mind meld
"I will take my leave of you now, Captain. I do not think we shall meet again."
"I hope you are wrong, ambassador."
"We shall always retain the best part of the other inside us."
"I believe I have the better part of that bargain, Ambassador. Peace and long life."
"Live long and prosper."
- - Sarek and Picard
- Second draft script: 27 February 1990
- Final draft script: 5 May 1990 
- Premiere airdate: 14 May 1990
- First UK airdate: 8 April 1992
Story and script
- According to Michael Piller, the story originally pitched involved another ambassador who begins to have mental problems on a mission. He recalled, "As we started talking about it in house on staff, we said what would really be interesting is if you took a very powerful member of either Starfleet Command or the Federation, and have them going through a time of their lives, like so many of our parents, where they're beginning to have problems with aging. From that point, it was two or three steps of somebody saying, 'How can we turn it into a science fiction show?' Somebody said, 'If you were a Vulcan, you could have some real telepathic impact from some kind of disease,' and from that point it was really short-stepped to, 'What about Sarek?' Sarek is an extraordinarily honorable character who we felt obliged to protect and deal with in a very respectful manner. At the same time, this becomes an extraordinarily personal story. A real stunning show." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 197)
- Piller noted that the use of an established character like Sarek "brings home the idea that even the greatest of men is subject to mental illness." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 127))
- Marc Cushman recalled that after he pitched the story of Sarek going through senility, Gene Roddenberry had him write two scripts: one with Sarek and another with a new Vulcan character. Roddenberry "started to have second thoughts about tying the two shows together," Cushman said. After some time had passed, and The Next Generation had been on for more than two years, Roddenberry came to feel that the time was right to make the episode with Sarek. (From One Generation To The Next: The Making of "Unification", Unification (Blu-ray))
- For Piller, there was an even deeper resonance to the story. "What I remember most about that episode, however, is that in a very real way it reflected what was going on with the show at the time we wrote it. Gene [Roddenberry] was beginning to go into decline. Not that he was completely uncommunicative, but it was clear that he was not the same man that he had been. We all respected him so much, and he had been such an important, strong leader of the franchise and everything it stood for. But here is this great man – and I've only known him for less than a year at this point – here is this great man going into decline, and I immediately felt a very strong connection to the premise of 'Sarek,' because I could see that it really was about the universe that we lived in on a daily basis. If you go back and look at 'Sarek' closely, what that character is, is Gene Roddenberry." (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 119)
- The script received an uncredited page one rewrite by Ira Steven Behr and Ronald D. Moore. (AOL chat, 1997)
- To do some research for the writing of the mind-meld scene between Sarek and Picard, Behr and Moore watched a scene from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in which Sarek mind melds with Kirk. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)
- Behr wanted to include more direct references to Sarek's son, Spock, but recalled it was a great challenge to even mention the character at all, as there was caution among the writing staff at this time towards referencing The Original Series. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 127)) Behr added, "I broke open the barrier and made it possible for The Next Generation to use names like Spock on-screen. That was a major taboo when I got there. No way could you mention the original Star Trek characters. It took days and days of arguing to slip in a single reference to Spock. So I like to think in my own sort of incoherent way I helped start to push open the door to what was a very, very closed and narrow franchise". ("Behr Necessities", TV Zone special #34)
Cast and characters
- Mark Lenard reprised his role of Sarek for this episode. His next appearance would be in "Unification I" where his character died from his illness. However, his last appearance was almost exactly a month later (from a production point of view) when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country hit the theaters.
- In a 1994 interview, Lenard noted, "The script dealt with a Vulcan with a very rare disease, kind of a version of Alzheimer's. I knew something about that. We used to call it 'senility' when I was a kid. So I didn't consciously do a lot of stuff. Part of it was what the script demanded and the other part was instinct." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 157)
- This episode marks the first appearance of Ensign Gates, one of the Enterprise's many flight control officers, who appeared in thirty-five more episodes. She was played by regular background actress Joycelyn Robinson.
- The initial piece of music played at the concert is Mozart's String Quartet Number 19. The piece that brings Sarek to tears is the slow (second) movement of the Sextet #1 in B-flat Major by Johannes Brahms, which requires six instruments, not the four seen. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 127))
- It is revealed in this episode that Coridan successfully joined the Federation after the events of TOS: "Journey to Babel", partly thanks to Ambassador Sarek's support.
- Sarek introduces Perrin to Captain Picard and Commander Riker as "she who is my wife". He introduced his first wife, and Spock's mother, Amanda to Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy exactly the same way.
- Sarek admits that, in her lifetime, he never revealed the depth of his love for Amanda. In Star Trek, his alternate self, after her untimely death, tells Spock much the same thing.
- During his argument with La Forge, Wesley indirectly refers to the chief engineer's experiences with the holographic Leah Brahms, depicted in TNG: "Booby Trap".
- This is the first time a mind meld was done in the series.
- Picard's crumbling emotions, mirroring Sarek's inner turmoil, is an echo of a similar scene of Spock in TOS: "The Naked Time", even down to a single take being used.
- This is the first time that the emotions of a character who has telepathic abilities spills over onto those around them as the result of a medical condition. Lwaxana Troi's bout with Zanthi fever in DS9: "Fascination" has a similar effect on the crew of Deep Space 9, though her condition is not fatal.
- When Sarek tells Sakkath to stop using his limited telepathy to help curb the Bendii Syndrome, Sakkath replies that "[t]hat would not be wise." Sarek answers that "[i]t may not be wise, but it is necessary." A very similar conversation takes place between the alternate reality versions of Sarek and Spock in Star Trek, in which Sarek asks Spock to speak his mind after an emotional outburst. Spock also replies that "[t]hat would be unwise," however, this time Sarek responds "What is necessary is never unwise."
- Ronald D. Moore commented, "I think in some ways, it's even better than 'Journey to Babel'. Mark Lenard has a chance to do some solid acting. It's a character-driven show and that's different for us." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 197)
- Michael Piller observed, "The key to the whole season is in personal stakes and personal drama. The Sarek story touches a lot of people." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 197)
- Director Les Landau remarked,
- "There are some great moments in that show. When we first see Sarek listening to the concert and reacting to Data's beautiful playing of the violin and we, finally, see the tear fall from his eye…it reaches such a point within him that he can no longer take it and must leave the environs of the Enterprise theater which surprises the captain and Troi especially. There was just something about the way Mark Lenard played this moment and reacted that just made [it] extra special.
- "The other moments that particularly come to mind in that episode is the mind meld between Picard and Sarek. Trying to come up with a way to conceptualize and shoot that became a frustrating point. I think, ultimately, when the two actors got to the set and showed me what they wanted to do, it just melded together and became a wonderful moment within the show. You always come to the set with a prepared framework for a particular scene, but you use that only as a schematic. When actors get to a set, all your planning can go out the window, and such was the case when Sarek finally says to Picard, 'Illogical, illogical,' to shed some kind of emotion. The dynamics between Picard and Sarek reach a level that I think is classic in Star Trek history.
- "I think the most outstanding moment is when we finally see Picard sitting with Beverly, where he is the mind of Sarek thinking about his life that has come before, his former wife and the one and only reference to his son, Spock. If you watch what Patrick did in that scene, it is truly spectacular. I have had many great experiences on the show, but certainly that was one of the best. Patrick is so capable on so many different levels that one just lets him go." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 197)
- Mark Lenard enjoyed working with Patrick Stewart on this episode. He recalled, "Patrick was young and professional, and his acting was simple, pure and clean. There's a great confidence in Patrick that's very important for an actor. When he had that emotional scene, he did it with great skill. And when he was just behaving himself, he did that with great skill, too." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 157)
- A mission report for this episode by Will Murray was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 14, pp. 33-36.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 36, 20 January 1992
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek - Crossovers Set: 6 November 1995
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 3.8, 2 October 2000
- As part of the TNG Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the Region 1 release of the Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection
- As part of the TNG Season 3 Blu-ray collection
The portion of the novel Federation set in 2366 begins during this episode's epilogue as the title character and Perrin are about to leave the Enterprise.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
- Mark Lenard as Sarek
- Joanna Miles as Perrin
- William Denis as Ki Mendrossen
- Rocco Sisto as Sakkath
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Joe Bauman as Garvey
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- David Chanel as command division lieutenant
- Gil Combs as operations division officer
- Nyra Crenshaw as operations division officer
- Robert Daniels as operations officer
- Chris Doyle as civilian
- Michele Gerren as science division officer
- Eben Ham as operations division officer
- Cat Hayes as science division officer
- Kim as operations division officer
- Mark Lentry as civilian
- Ken Lesco as science division officer
- Buck McDancer as operations division officer
- James McElroy as command division officer
- Michael Moorehead as civilian
- Randy Pflug as Jones
- Denise Lynne Roberts as Patti
- Joycelyn Robinson as Gates
- Richard Sarstedt as command division officer
- Marston Smith as cellist
- Uchizono as civilian
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- Boy in Ten Forward
- Command division officer
- Command division officer
- Command division officer
- Command division officer
- Command division officer
- Female civilian
- Female command division lieutenant
- Female command division officer
- Female command division officer
- Female operations division officer
- Female operations division officer
- Female operations ensign
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Fighting couple
- Operations division lieutenant
- Operations division officer
- Science division officer
- Science division officer
- Science division officer
- Ten Forward waiter
- Ten Forward waiter
- Ten Forward waitress
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton
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- "Sarek" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Sarek" at Wikipedia
- "Sarek" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Sarek" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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